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Giuseppe Vincenti, a pioneer in the Middle East film industry who helped revolutionize distribution in the region, has died. He was 92.
His family confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter.
Vincenti launched Italia Film in Lebanon in 1962, turning it into one of the region’s biggest independent film distributors, and Disney’s key Middle East partner. He is credited with being the first to expand into the United Arab Emirates, now the Gulf’s most vibrant box office, and — more recently — Saudi Arabia, with Italia Film the first company to gain a film distribution licence after the ban on cinemas was lifted.
Vincenti got an early break at the 1970 Cannes Film Market, where he heard from the trades that former exhibition, distribution and production giant National General Pictures had announced a slate of major movies. Hoping to get a meeting with its then president of international distribution, Bobby Myers, he was told he wouldn’t be free for a week. According to legend, Vincenti — worried that he’d lose out on a deal — claimed that he had an emergency matter back home and had to leave, and was invited for breakfast the very next day. It was here where he signed a deal that made Italia Film distributor to National General Pictures’ films in the Middle East. Myers was shocked to then bump into Vincenti on the Croisette several days later, realizing he’d been tricked.
National General Pictures gave Italia hits with films like The Getaway, El Condor, The Baby Maker and The Grasshopper. Following this, in 1975 Italia Film became the regional distributor for Lorimar Pictures and in 1977 signed with Orion Pictures. Films such as Escape to Victory, Breathless, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Terminator, Platoon and The Killing Fields were all released under the Italia Films label.
In 1993, Vincenti helped launch Italia Film’s long-lasting relationship with Disney, with the company looking after Buena Vista International for the whole of the Middle East, beginning with driving up interest in Disney’s animated films (which, at the time, weren’t released in the region outside of Lebanon). This relationship recently saw Italia Film make history, with 2019 releases Aladdin, Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King becoming the three highest grossing films of all time in the Middle East.
Vincenti also expanded Italia Film’s distribution footfall to include joint venture and partnerships in each of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and India.
Alongside distribution, Vincenti gained credits on several major movies, listed as an exec producer on John Wick.
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